This 24-Year-Old Needs A Genetic Match To Save Her Life

Early last month, 24-year-old Lara Casalotti, a master's student in London, began noticing pain in her back and shortness of breath during her runs. A blood test during a visit to a doctor revealed a cause she never expected: Acute myeloid leukemia, a rare, aggressive, and potentially fatal cancer, in which the bone marrow makes abnormal blood cells or platelets. To survive, she needs a bone marrow transplant donor by April. That's where things get tricky.

Casalotti is Chinese, Thai, and Italian. According to Mixed Marrow, an organization dedicated to finding multiracial bone marrow and blood cell donors, only about 3% of international bone marrow donors identify as mixed-race — making it difficult for patients such as Casalotti to find lifesaving genetic matches. (White patients are by far the likeliest to find matches.) That's why her family has launched the #match4lara campaign: to search for a donor for her, and to encourage people, especially those who are mixed-race or members of racial minorities, to register as potential donors.
Advertisement

All of us in Lara's family wanted so badly to be the match. Now this is a numbers game.

"All of us in [Lara's] family wanted so badly to be the match. I must have hit the refresh button a hundred times on the online test results page, before finally getting my markers," Casalotti's cousin Nisha shared to the match4Lara website earlier this month. "They didn’t match. None of ours do. So now this is a numbers game. The chances of any one person being a match are tiny, but if we can mobilize thousands…hundreds of thousands…millions of people…then the odds don’t look so bad anymore."

Since the campaign launched 11 days ago, some 6,700 people have signed up for the U.K.-based Anthony Nolan bone marrow donor registry, a dramatic increase from the 1,200 who signed up over the same period in 2015. The campaign has also attracted the attention of supporters from Mark Wahlberg to Mario Testino to J.K. Rowling:
Advertisement
As the number of people who identify as mixed-race grows, the need for mixed-race donors will only become more acute. To learn more about Casalotti's quest for a donor and how to sign up to become one, no matter your race, click through to her campaign's website.
Advertisement

More from Body

Falling asleep is a natural process, so it should be easy, right? Ha! We wish. Of course, we've all had trouble getting to sleep at some point. But for ...
It's hard to ignore that we are at a pivotal moment in history in terms of women's reproductive rights. But in addition to being an issue at the forefront ...
UPDATE: Unfortunately, the video in question has been removed for copyright infringement, but you can take a look at a teaser here. If you recall, back ...
Pregnant women get a lot of advice about motherhood, even when they don't ask for it. And in the first episode of Expecting, from Refinery29's comedy ...
Brittany Mostiller still remembers the moment when she realized that she couldn’t afford an abortion. “I didn’t know anything about this Hyde Amendment ...
Earlier this year, Lena Dunham was hospitalized to treat a ruptured ovarian cyst, unintentionally shedding light on an often ignored area of women's health...
If your eyes tend to glaze over at first mention of the latest Health Hack That Will Change Your Life, we can’t really blame you. Although we are literally...
(Paid Content) Stress sweat is different from regular sweat in that it feeds off bacteria and causes odor. Then you start to think about it — producing ...
We're in plus-size pool party heaven
Summer is over (for real). So it's time to face the facts: You're going to get a cold. Actually, you're probably going to get colds — plural. The average ...
The pelvic exam — complete with the stirrups and the speculum — isn't anyone's favorite thing about having a vagina. But it's really important because it's...
A few years ago, two Michigan urologists noticed a curious pattern among their patients: Upon returning from a Disney World vacation, patients would ...
It shouldn't be this complicated, all this body stuff: size discrimination, weight bias, the multi-factioned movement fighting to reverse it. At its core ...
On principle, I am skeptical of any internet health recommendation that has the word “challenge” tacked on to the end of it. These wellness fads come and...